‘The BJP is dismantling this Republic’

‘For all practical purposes, the Constitution has been rewritten. Only the formality remains, which can be done in 2025.’

Yogendra Yadav, who has been on several padyatras in the past, has been walking with the Congress-led Bharat Jodo Yatra for the last 20 odd days.

Why has this known critic of the Congress aligned with the party for the Bharat Jodo Yatra?

“When my house is on fire, I will recognise only two parties. One who brings water and the other who holds a bottle of petrol. If I have any sanity left, then I must hold the hand of those who bring water even if I have quarrelled with them yesterday and will quarrel with them tomorrow,” Mr Yadav tells Rediff.com‘s Archana Masih in the second part of a three-part interview.

  • Part 1: ‘The Yatra is a silver lining in the dark clouds that hover over our country today’

You have been scathingly critical of the Congress in the past and even written that the Congress must die.
What has changed about the party now that made you join the Congress-led Bharat Jodo Yatra?

My participation in the yatra was not dependent upon any dramatic shift in my perception about the Congress.

I was very disappointed and angry about the way the 2019 election was surrendered to the BJP and I continue to blame everyone in the non-Congress camp, including myself, but by virtue of being the largest Opposition party, the Congress must take the first blame.

2019 was a critical election. My basic charge against the Congress is that it did not stand up to the BJP. This was the party’s historic responsibility and they did not discharge that duty.

My thoughts remain the same about the party, but what has changed in the last three years is the condition of the country.

The BJP is dismantling this Republic. We are now really at the edge of the cliff. If things continue as they are, I doubt we will have the same Constitution in 2025.

For all practical purposes, the Constitution has been rewritten. Only the formality remains, which can be done in 2025.

Will we have basic civil liberties in 2025? I am not sure because the space has shrunk so much.

Will this country formalise two tiers of citizenship — first class citizens and second class citizens?

We are at the now or never moment.

When you face a moment of reckoning, the logic is very simple — for example, when my house is on fire, I will recognise only two parties. One who brings water and the other who holds a bottle of petrol.

If I have any sanity left, then I must hold the hand of those who bring water even if I have quarrelled with them yesterday and will quarrel with them tomorrow.

We have fought against the Congress. I personally have been brought up in an anti-Congress political tradition and have opposed the Congress, both in ideas and on the streets.

I have taken lathi blows from the Congress establishment, but I look forward to a situation in the country where we can again struggle against the mainstream parties.

Today, the issue is whether we can retain that sacred space in which these struggles can be carried out.

Today, that ground itself is being challenged and I must join hands with everyone who seeks to protect it.

We have said very clearly that tomorrow if any other Opposition party or any movement raises these issues, we will support them as well. Our support is not exclusive to the Congress.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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